Obsessing about roasted turkey smothered in gravy? Homemade macaroni and cheese? Candied yams topped with marshmallows, and sweet potato pie topped with whip cream? Of course you are: The holiday season starts next week, with Thanksgiving, and ’tis the season to indulge. We know it’s unrealistic to expect folks to measure their white meat portions to 5 or 6 ounces at Grandma’s big spread. So how can you dig in without losing your mind and gaining a waist size?

RH teamed up with Carole Carson, author of the new book From Fat to Fit ($14.95; Hound Press), to show how you can have your red velvet cake and eat it too. All it takes is a little planning, motivation and willpower.

  • Clue in your family that you’re trying to lose weight: If your kids are expecting chitterlings, they might be a tad disappointed when it’s nowhere to be found. But if you tell them why, they can give you emotional support. “I went public to my family about my goals and they were really supportive,” Carson says.
  • Tweaking your recipes: This can make all the difference. Take mashed potatoes, for instance. “Take out a third of the potatoes and add mashed cauliflower, mustard and a pinch of horseradish,” Carson advises. “You have cut a third of the calories and no one will taste the difference.” What about chocolate brownies? “Instead of using oil, use yogurt or apple sauce,” she says. “I can still have my chocolate and with fewer calories. It even tastes better!” Almost every dish can be modified to reduce calories and fats without sacrificing too much flavor.
  • Incorporate at least two healthy side dishes: Carson suggests that by adding tasty but healthy sides such as a cucumber and tomato salad or green beans with onions and chicken broth, she can fill up without the extra calories.
  • Begin the meal with a soup: Make this a new family tradition. “By starting off with a low-calorie soup, it might fill you up,” Carson states. RH suggests Imagine’s Organic Sweet Potato soup (110 calories per serving). Add a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon and it tastes fresh from your grandma’s garden.
  • Just say no: This may not be what you want to hear, but just by passing on items such as gravy and that second glass of red wine you can cut almost 250 calories from your meal.
  • Make working out a family affair: A recent study found that obesity is linked to familial proximity: If your husband, sister or parents are overweight, most likely you are too. Suggest that the family take a half-hour walk or pop in a Pilates or Salsa DVD while the turkey is baking. “Lead by example,” Carson asserts.
  • Don’t let others distract you from exercising: Your loved ones may not be interested in working off that cornbread stuffing. Don’t let that stop you. Schedule your workouts (maybe add in an extra one) and try your best to stick with them. If you are eating at someone else’s house for dinner, get that run in before you leave home.
  • Relax and don’t beat yourself up: Stressing over everything you put in your mouth is not going to make this 40-day period go by any easier. These are supposed to be fun times!
  • Focus on your loved ones: “Food is not the only way to find pleasure,” she reminds. “Tend to other people and your spirit; that way you don’t have to stuff yourself with food.”

FYI: For those just starting a nutrition and fitness regimen, Carson stresses, “Now never seems like a good time, and this is especially true during the holidays, but all we have is now. So really it is the best time.”

Learn more tips at www.fromfat2fit.com